Monday, March 8, 2010

"Exemption Wipeout"

WHAT I MIGHT NEED (apart from a surf running on Bondi Beach):

Regulations may exclude vehicles, persons and animals from this Act and the regulations
(cf Cth Act, s 10)
(1) The regulations may:
(b) authorise the Authority to exempt a vehicle, person or animal (or a class of vehicles, persons or animals of a kind) identified in the regulations from the operation of this Act or the regulations (or specified provisions of this Act or the regulations).

...which in English means...
(1)The Road Rules 2008 regulation 256, under which I was booked, may:
(b) authorise the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) to exempt me, identified in the Road Rules 2008 as a rider of a bicycle, from the operations of the Road Rules 2008 regulation 256.


FAIR TRADING ACT 1987 - SECT 44 False representations
(Trade Practices Act 1974 s 53)
The Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) shall not in connection with the promotion by any means of the supply or use of bicycle helmets:

(e) represent that bicycle helmets have performance characteristics, uses or benefits they do not have


Pursuant to section 72 of the ROAD TRANSPORT (SAFETY AND TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT) ACT 1999 (NSW) and under the Road Rules 2008 regulation 256, I seek an exemption from wearing a bicycle helmet on (1) Therapeutic Grounds and (2) Grounds of Civil Liberties.

(1) Therapeutic Grounds
In Transportation Accident Analysis and Prevention, ed. A. De Smet, Nova Science Publishers 2008, p. 155, W.J. Curnow claims, in his peer reviewed article "Bicycle Helmets: a Scientific Evaluation", that wearing a bicycle helmet can increase the angular acceleration which an oblique impulse imparts to the head, increasing the risk of damage to the brain, especially diffuse axonal injury'.

This position is somewhat confirmed by a Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) memo, obtained through Freedom Of Information...

1) A/Senior Policy Manager (Vulnerable Road Users), Safer People Branch
2) A/General Manager, Safer People Branch
3) A/Director, NSW Centre for Road Safety
A/Senior Research & Policy Analyst, Safer People Branch
20th June 2008 (File no. 7M2609)

...where it is admitted on page 2, line 6 that ‘there is the possibility that some helmets, in combination with particular size headforms, may have a small disbenefit with regards to rotational acceleration.’

Given such department ambiguity in parallel with conflicting internationally peer-reviewed evidence, it would appear that helmets are still very much an ongoing experiment, and in view of section 44 of the Fair Trading Act 1987 (NSW), the RTA shall not, in connection with the promotion by any means of the supply or use of bicycle helmets, represent that bicycle helmets have performance characteristics, uses or benefits they do not have.

(2) Grounds of Civil Liberties
I understand that the Australian Government takes seriously its international obligations and responsibilities. Accordingly, I understand that the Australian Government retreats from any potential breach of international law. Under PART III, Article 7 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR), states that: " one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation."

In view of Article 7 of the ICCPR, I do not wish to be part of the bicycle helmet 'medical or scientific experiment'. Therefore I respectfully request that you please respect my right to ride my bicycle without a helmet – a right which I exercise with my free refusal, the counter to free consent.

I genuinely and honestly believe that in the face of this evidence, it would be irrational for me to wear a bicycle helmet, and that my grounds for exemption are reasonable, proportionate and justified.

...fingers x'd!


  1. Sue, Congrats on everything so far! You are a champion.

    Excuse my legal ignorance, but in terms of this application, if you are successful in being granted an exemption, does that mean that anyone could apply for the same exemption?


  2. I know I'm going to give it a shot here in Queensland! Go Sue!


    Dr Paul Martin

  3. LSS, yes! you could apply and use exactly the same grounds, legislation, and peer reviewed article(s) - I have more to quote if necessary!!! - also with regards to this application, if I'm not successful I shall take it to the ombudsman

    - I'm hoping to do an interview sometime this week with ABC radio just to keep them posted as to where i am with all this - radio presenter very keen!

    Go, Paul!!!!

  4. That is too fab. However, I'm nervous about you not having the exemption before you let the cat out of the bag. If the RTA suspects that an approved exemption will then set a precedent and open Pandora's box, then they may just find a way to ensure you don't get the exemption? Am I too suspicious and cynical??? Anyway, I soooooo admire what you've done.

  5. ahh! LSS! thank you for your support & you may be right but i'll go to the ombudsman whether i get one or not - and then maybe the UN?!

  6. Hi Sue
    I have recently joined the LDP as they are the only political party which supports removal of the helmet laws. They need more members to be able to contest the next election. The state branches have a page to join online it is free and hopefully next election people will have the choice to vote against helmet laws. By joining or attending the LDP monthly meetings ( you don't have to actually join to attend ) you can help forge and influence their policy which should concentrate on promoting libertarian values as an alternative to intolerance and overly intrusive laws.
    Here is a link to their related policy page The LDP have a specific policy to remove mandatory helmet laws and other laws which criminalize victim-less crimes.

    Note the link at the bottom of their page to

    The ability to vote against helmet laws will help change things, and working with any political party supportive of the idea is an easy way to lend support to removing these unfair helmet laws.

    Regards Steve.

  7. Sorry if I offend anyone but is not the Government fault you are subject to stupid laws. You are the only one to blame and fully deserve what is happening as you have freely elected the government that brought this law into existence. Every nation gets the government it deserves (Joseph de Maistre)

    1. Once elected a government can pretty much do whatever they want - Elections are 4 years apart and with hundreds or thousands of issues per year being decided with little means of voter recourse it is a weak democracy at best. Individual rights are often ignored or purposely taken away - we do what we can though and try to make things better.